Dieter Korczak, the recently elected President of ESOMAR Council for 2011 – 2012, opened the conference by referring to the time of unprecedented change in which we now find ourselves; the power of the people being demonstrated in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are indicative of the new order in which people want to live. Such change is also apparent in the shopper world, and we are delighted to welcome over 130 participants from 25 countries to this Insights Conference in the wonderful city of Brussels………
Dieter then introduced Leyla Namiranian, Programme Committee chairperson, who set the scene for the conference, by echoing Dieters reference to unprecedented change and the “new world order”- where change is constant and shopper insights must continuously evolve to meet the demands of the new paradigm….asking the question: how do we as researchers, ensure that our “compass” is set to “true North”, or more pragmatically, how do we ensure that research facilitates insight that drives business? Undoubtedly a great challenge for the conference speakers!
Tom LaForge, Global Director of Human & Cultural Insights Coca-Cola, then took the stage for the opening keynote. Entitled “Insights World”, Tom brought us on a journey through the external Macroforces that have, and will shape our businesses over the coming decade(s), and related that these macroforces and trends are changing the meaning and role of brands; notable examples that Tom gave were: TOMS shoes, who give away a pair of shoes to the underprivileged, for every pair that is bought and the Toyota Prius, whose lack of impact on the environment is one of its strongest USPs. The increasing importance – from a consumer perspective – of such ecological and philanthropical influences, will be key drivers of the new order in which we operate. A quote from Coca-Cola’s CEO very appositely summed up this combination of philosophy & strategy that Tom advocates is now of critical importance, as consumers expect a much more meaningful relationship with their brands : “Our consumers are judging us as much on our character as on the quality of our product.” In summary, Toms message is one of both opportunity, as well as a cautionary tale…..to paraphrase Gandhi, we must be the change we want to be, and take the responsibility of shaping the world as we want to see it.
Melanie Howard, Future Foundation UK, then followed Tom, with her presentation: Global Village, Global Jungle. Based on “The Future of Insight”- a proprietary report by the foundation, based on discussions with more than 40 industry leaders and interviews with representatives of more than 170 companies – Melanie put forward three key consumer trends, in our increasingly globalised world….
1) The rise of the global “maximiser” – or more plainly put, the increased importance placed by consumers on finding true “value”;
2) The emergence of the quantified self – the requirement to measure ourselves more accurately. Whether this be the tracking of our calorie intake or the need to always look the best we can, this is another key behavioural economic;
3) And lastly, the integration of the play ethic – a trend which we are increasingly seeing in all aspects of our lives and which is based on the need for greater engagement with our customers.
Melanies presentation complemented Toms Macroforces story beautifully, and left us eagerly wanting to read more of the report!!